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Using AWS in a Hybrid SharePoint Environment

Author: Owens Gollamandala | | April 13, 2017

With the release of SharePoint 2016, you can now run Microsoft’s popular database management software directly on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform. It’s fair to say that AWS has revolutionized cloud computing, putting pressure on other cloud providers in both pricing and integration. So, you might be surprised to learn that most customers use AWS as part of a hybrid system incorporating onsite servers.

Amazon.com itself used AWS in a hybrid environment for more than five years, according to a case history of the company’s migration to AWS. Until recently, most Big Data analytics was done completely on-premises. A Wikibon report on Big Data in the Public Cloud shows that in 2015, Data Analytics firms spent only 5% of their budget on cloud computing. That number is expected to grow to a quarter of their budgets (24%) in the next 10 years.

Provisioning a Hybrid SharePoint AWS Environment

AWS uses Active Directory Demand Service (AD DS) to replicate your onsite AD DS in the cloud environment. Amazon recommends that you deploy domain controllers for your existing AD forest to the AWS cloud “primarily to help ensure that the application servers deployed in AWS remain functional and available in the event of an on-premises outage.”

You can purchase a license for SharePoint Server 2016 directly through AWS and migrate your existing SharePoint license to the cloud. You can contact SharePoint directly for information on migrating your license to AWS or ask your Managed Services Provider to investigate your license situation as part of planning a move to the cloud.

Alternatives to AWS CloudFormation Tool

The AWS CloudFormation tools makes it easy to provision SharePoint on AWS. However, it doesn’t work as well on-premises, so you may want to explore other software for hybrid management. In a recent article for TechRepublic, Keith Townsend wrote, “CloudFormation is focused on AWS and doesn’t translate well to private data center orchestration.”

Townsend suggests three other software solutions for hybrid AWS environments:

  • Hashicorp Terraform
  • VMware vRealize
  • Redhat CloudForms

With a robust hybrid architecture in place, your organization will be able to tap on-premises storage securely from AWS and tap AWS storage (S3, for example) securely from an on-premises SharePoint environment. This gives you the ability to move workloads around to optimize storage and minimize costs.

Some things to consider when developing a hybrid SharePoint solution are:

  • The user interface
  • Security and access environment
  • Backups and disaster recovery

For more technical detail about setting up a hybrid SharePoint environment in AWS, consult the new white paper from Datavail, Running SharePoint Server on Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you would like assistance evaluating the move to AWS for your organization, contact the DBAs at Datavail. They have performed numerous migrations to AWS and will help assess your operation, plan your move, secure your licenses, supervise the migration, and hand off the new environment to your team.

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